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growing up

Today; A Day In The Life

Today was a good day until it wasn’t. I woke up tired this morning (I’ve been working a LOT lately) but aside from that I was great! Went to Barre, had a great class, grabbed a vanilla almond milk latte from my favourite coffee shop and caught up on a couple shows. Then I napped and my day shifted. I had an awful dream and woke up really anxious. Since anxiety plays such a big role in my daily life I didn’t realize just how anxious I was until I was getting ready to leave the house. I was moving slowly but figured it would pass since I was looking forward to hanging with some cool people and checking out a new local brewery in the process.

I lasted an hour and a half. I was restless the entire time, quiet as ever, and very uncomfortable. I had about 3 sips of beer while I was there and decided I had to call it. So I’m writing this from under a pile of blankets, in the comfort of my home, trying to calm my anxious mind.

I always want to fight my anxiety and prove it wrong, but I’ve learned that this isn’t always the best route to take. As much as I need to overcome a lot of things relating to anxiety, sometimes I need to listen to the messages my body is sending me. Right now I’m very overwhelmed in life and I’m aware of that. I have too much going on but I can’t do much about that at the moment – I also might be fighting what I call ACTUAL sickness. These can lead to anxious outbursts that seem to creep in for no obvious reason.

Since I usually react to anxiety by feeling sick in various ways, as a kid I used to call it “my sickness” which therapists immediately made me stop doing. Though as an 11 yr old kid who threw up multiple times every day and continuously felt nauseous, I can’t blame my young self for dubbing it a sickness of sorts. Even my 27 yr old self agrees – it will always be my sickness. But I also agree with the therapist in that I should be more positive about it. So in my life there’s anxiety sickness and actual sickness.

I really struggle with fighting my anxiety vs. listening to it. I think I did well this evening, staying for a while and then deciding the best thing to do was leave. It was a weird situation because usually when I’m anxious in a social gathering it’s due to a person there or a situation that happened there. But this evening it was just that I happened to be anxious in that space. This helped me not feel guilty about leaving – I knew I needed to get to a comfortable place physically so my mind could hopefully find that comfort as well. On the other hand whenever these things happen, even if there’s no reason to feel guilty, I do. And it never helps the situation. I considered staying a little longer and fighting it, but after the long week I had I knew I needed to leave. As soon as I sat in the car I noticed I was shaking and called my mom.

My mom and I are extremely close and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know my anxiety has a lot to do with it as well. She’s the only person in my life who has been with me since the very beginning of my anxiety journey that began with not knowing what was wrong with me, to sitting beside me in the hospital through multiple tests, to getting diagnosed and finding me a therapist. I’m so thankful and happy that my mum has always been open minded and understanding towards mental health. I don’t know where I would be in this anxiety journey without her but it certainly wouldn’t be this far. (Happy British Mother’s Day Mum! Xo – we’re British, it counts).

So I called my mum. And I kind of talked, kind of cried, and listened to her tell me about the dogs and the new fast water boiling feature she found on her 2 yr old stove today. And then she expressed her frustration with my anxiety because after years of helping me with it to the best of her ability, she knows there isn’t anything she can do. And she hates that. Because she’s an amazing Mum.

I had a conversation about my frustrations with anxiety last week with one of my all-time best friends. She’s also asked me many, many times if there is anything she can do to help.

Today, a couple of people at the brewery that knew I didn’t just “not feel well” asked if they could do anything. One of them, someone who has become dear to my heart, was even offering to rub my back in case that would help to calm me down so I could stay. Another amazing human offered to be someone to talk to if I ever need it. And another was just the most understanding, calm, beacon of support and comfort from the moment she sat in my car and I told her what was going on.

These offers of love, support, and help make me speechless. My answer is always so thankful and appreciative, and I always have to say “No, there isn’t anything you can do to help, unfortunately.” But this kindness being thrown at me in shaky or smiling times are so appreciated. I’m sure I can speak for many anxiety warriors when I say that while I wish there was something you could do to help, knowing that you’re there and that you care enough to offer help means the absolute world. Just being there has me forever grateful for you.

Even I lose track of how often I feel anxious because the reality is that it is my normal. But you people who care – for me or anyone else in your life that has similar struggles – you’re the ones that get us through. You call us strong and you call us brave, and while I usually don’t feel this way, when I do it’s because of you. That strength, that courage – it’s from your hugs, your kind words, your empathy, your support.

So THANK YOU! Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to admit that it is SO FUCKING HARD to live with anxiety. I always undermine it, and it’s probably a pride thing. But it feels good sometimes to let that wall down and admit that it’s a life that is often terrifying and involves constant worrying, physical sickness, panic attacks, and tons of doctor visits and question marks.

And thank you so much for reading this and understanding a little more about me and the world of anxiety. Thank you for the hugs, for the kind words, for reminding me that I’m strong, that I’m brave, that I’ll get through this each time. Thank you for offering to rub my back, to talk, for putting up with my texts asking if you’re mad at me (without any reason for doing so aside from my own worry), and for being so understanding. Just, thank you.

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Just Can’t Shake It

I definitely always constantly find myself dwelling. I dwell, I worry, I freak out. I dwell. I dwell, then I worry. I worry then I dwell. I freak out. I worry and sometimes really and truly let it go. I worry and dwell and repeat. Are you annoyed yet? Because, SAME! This is my brain 24/7 and usually about the most ridiculous things.

For anyone who knows me even a little bit, or for anyone who actually reads these things, you know that I struggle daily with anxiety. Sometimes I think I should be an actor because I can be really good at hiding my crumbling emotions when I need to. And then again, people who I never thought would, have seen me cry or run to the bathroom to throw up. So there’s that.

Lately though, there’s been one thing that’s been eating away at me and I can’t let it go. In every moment my brain is not otherwise distracted, it’s right there in the forefront of my thoughts. Here it is, folks: I cannot let people in.

Growing up, I always thought I was an open, trusting person. However, upon reaching something some may call adulthood, I’ve realized that I am quite the opposite. I’ll tell you about my life, my friends, funny and embarrassing things that happen to me, and even what it’s like to live with anxiety. But I’ll never dig very deep. I have a lot of friends and I really do love them all in different unique ways. My brother always says “you have too many friends” and it makes me think about how I’m so thankful to have the personality that I do. I absolutely love speaking to strangers, even though I was taught not to, and I love making connections with people.

On the surface I seem confident and inviting, but on the inside there is a huge wall up, and behind that wall there’s a maze (similar to the last challenge in the Triwizard tournament) and then there’s a bank vault that takes a certain kind of key to unlock and voila, I’m hanging out inside deciding whether or not I can let you in. But it takes two. You have to have the right key and I have to want you to come hang out with me in my vault. This is super rare though because I get my yoga on, nap, read, and bake a lot in there so I’m not always paying attention to the outside world. I don’t even mean digging deep all the time – this blockade is present even if I’m going to grab coffee with someone. Have I said “Yeah that would be awesome!” to plans with people, or bailed at the last minute due to insane anxiety? Yup. And it stinks because I’m genuine and then I start to worry that people I care about might think I’m less genuine than they thought.

Tonight in the shower, despite loving the hot water and having an amazing playlist going, I was worrying and dwelling about not being able to truly let people in. I always find the positive in a situation, but this is just also a daily, hourly occurrence for me and many, many others. Though it is extremely hard to live with and manage, it’s not always this horrible monster. It just is what it is. And it is a part of me.

So basically, I’m really, really bad at letting people in. But I want to be good at it. Or at least able to do it. And sometimes writing helps, so here we are.

I’m so excited to have been accepted to an anxiety research program that involves group therapy. I’ve said for so long that I think I would really benefit from group therapy – if anyone wants to talk anxiety any time, holler at your girl!! As common as it seems to be these days, it’s rare to find someone who deals with it and talks about it.

Patience is hard

PATIENCE IS HARD!!

Allow me to backtrack. 

Life is hard. Adulting is hard. Social media gets tons of negative attention because it’s all so unrealistically positive. I do think it’s silly to portray life as something so perpetually happy when in reality it’s not. But at the same time, it’s nice to see people happy!But we also can’t assume that everyone isn’t going through something personal that they’re not sharing. We all have our shit! I like seeing friends post pictures of them smiling and doing fun things. It’s nice to celebrate the positivity in life, and I think it’s something we should all make a point of doing. Posting positivity on social media (including a ton of animals & food) is certainly something I do. But anyone who knows me, knows that I’m real. I won’t compliment you if I don’t mean it, and I won’t do anything that I don’t agree with or that makes me uncomfortable. I’m real and genuine 24/7 and I’ll never live life another way.

That being said, here I am complaining that being patient is hard. 

I’m 26, soon to be 27 (in November), and MY LIFE IS NOT TOGETHER! I constantly joke about it, but it’s genuinely how I feel. I think about 80% of the time I think I’ll be a crazy cat lady except with tons of different animals, and that I’ll never own a house, I’ll never figure out exactly what I want career-wise, and I’ll never conquer certain fears. So to deal with this sad fate, I joke. Because no matter what, though it may be easier said than done, smiling and laughing is key in life. A valuable lesson I’ve learned in my 26.5 yrs.

I also feel perpetually poor. I work one job Monday to Friday, 9-5, and I now work a second part-time job on evenings and weekends. And let me tell you, it is fucking exhausting. 

I live on my own because I’ve always been independent, but also because when I moved into my own place my roommates at the time moved out of Hamilton. I didn’t know anyone that needed a roommate and I didn’t particularly want to live with a stranger (roommate horror stories aren’t exactly the ones I want to tell). So that leaves me paying for rent & utilities on my own. I have amazing housemates and therefore split internet with one of the apartments below me, but then there’s my car payments, car & house insurance, laundry fees, phone bill, groceries, that gosh darn student debt, & gas. Never mind having a social life. Prices only go up, and goodness gracious life is expensive. My parents are both self employed (so proud of them for it) with no pension, and mom lives 2.5 hours north, while dad lives 2.5 provinces East, so I can’t exactly crash their houses for a meal, or temporarily move in to save money. 

It can be pretty overwhelming at times, it I feel like I can’t POSSIBLY be the only person feeling this way – but no one talks about it. It’s like, being poor is socially acceptable because without mentioning it we all know that life costs suck, but then everyone goes to fun events and out for meals, proceeds to post it on social media, and that’s what we see them do. We see them wearing a gorgeous new dress at this year’s coolest music festival. But what we don’t see is that she worked over time for months so that she could pay for those tickets, and her dress was $5 at the local second hand store. 

Though I’m supposedly an adult, the advice I keep getting from REAL adults is to stay strong, persevere, suck it up, and this stage in life will pass before I know it. 

I feel like I’m not the only “adult” that KNOWS these things. What sucks, and what is truly the hardest part isn’t the million work hours or the not sleeping properly and guzzling coffee the next morning, but finding patience. And gosh darn it, being patient is hard. 

This difficult, crazy, weird time is exactly what it means to work for what you have. I was lucky to grow up in a very wealthy town and in a middle class family. I can appreciate wealth, I can dream about having no debt and taking friends out for dinner and covering the bill no problem, but what I have right now that can never be taken away from me is wealth in working, in knowing that nothing comes easily but that once you achieve something you appreciate it so much when you’ve worked so hard for it. 

On the surface I seem like a stereotypical Oakville kid – wealthy, put together, confident, outgoing, traveled, lulu lemon & latte lover. But really, I drive a car that I rent and struggle to afford, I luckily didn’t inherit my mother’s resting bitch face (love you, Ma!), and for every flight I’ve stepped onto, I’ve worked my ass off to get it there. And I’m proud of it all and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

To you, reading this as a fellow twenty-something year old, or as someone who is going through the work-your-ass-off phase, I FEEL YOU! And so do so many other people, no matter what you might think based on their social media accounts or how they seem. Inner demons are cruel and we all have them, but understanding that we all have them is what’s key.

How will we ever be able to build each other up if we constantly make assumptions based on little snippets of a life we aren’t living.

And this thought brings me back to the fact that we are all patiently struggling with something. We may all be at different stages of our struggle, and we may not be able to completely relate with someone else’s specific situation, but we are ALL just trying to be patient and get through. 

It’s been a really rough year for me, to put it plainly, and tonight I sat on my couch with someone else’s cat, streamed reality tv, and a glass of white, and I couldn’t help but be so thankful for the people I have around me who are always there for a hug (please hug me anytime – my favourite!), a drink, a slumber party, or popping up in snail mail when I least expect it. So go make a pen pal out of someone you love, give your people some hugs, and keep joking and smiling. Together we’ll get through, because patience is HARD!! 

Cat, Cow, Motherf****in’ Unicorn!

You’re a 5 year old kid and your world crashes down around you because your classmate broke your favourite coloured crayon. Then you go home, get in a fight with your brother because you didn’t want to share. So you find yourself alone in your room wondering if the world (your parents) has forgotten about you because this time out is lasting forever!

Ten years later you’re 15, half way through high school and struggling to figure out “who you are” even though this won’t happen for another 10 years. Who your friends are and who is or isn’t mad at you, how your rugby team is doing, and how you played at field hockey last night are all that’s on your mind while you sit through class. Between those thoughts and staring at the dreamy boy (or girl) on the other side of the room, you think about how stressful life is.

In another three years you’ve completed your first semester at university and in those first few months your entire world has turned upside down and around three times. Nothing you did up until the first day of university truly prepped you for it. But what could? Everything is uncertain – what am I even doing here? Is this person really my friend or do they just think I’m smart? Do I like my major? Should I change it? Will I get a job when I graduate? Will I ever drink again and NOT get hungover? Does he like me or does he just want to sleep with me? And everything is a first – first love, first apartment, first roommates, first bills to pay on your own, first jobs, first time struggling at a class that used to be your best, first time making your own decisions about life, first time realizing that if you don’t do groceries they won’t appear in your fridge, first time taking care of yourself when you get sick. The lists go on and on. But you got through, you figured it out, you graduated, and even have some great memories to prove it wasn’t all difficult.

After a couple years of loving the liberty of not being in school for the first time in your life; working many jobs, traveling, going on various adventures – you realize you need to get your crap together, move out of mom’s house and get a full time job. Well that’s harder than expected and takes a heck of a lot of work. Like when you spend hundreds of hours applying to over 80 jobs and don’t get one interview. Alas, yet another time in life where you’re figuring things out, making things work, and pretending you know what you’re doing until you start to convince yourself.

This is the toughest part so far. It’s the first time you haven’t had a path you’re ‘supposed to take’. Up until now you’ve always known what’s coming next. And along with the liberation comes fear.

In this day and age jobs are extremely hard to come by. It seems you need to know someone who happens to be hiring in your field or at least in a field that you are capable of working in… and that person has to want to hire you. The chance of these acquaintances hanging around are quite low, and therefore the majority of twenty-somethings are struggling. So we travel. We joke about how adulting is hard. We workout. And sometimes we just get drunk.

It’s that weird age where you have at least one friend who is engaged, one who is galavanting another country, one who is married and starting a family, one who is partying as often as possible, one who is still unemployed living with their parents, and one who landed an amazing job and is basically rich and famous. And then there’s you and you think – What the hell am I doing?! Do I be patient and wait it out to just see what happens? Or do I try to find a way to grab the bull by the horns?

Society is a really difficult thing these days for young adults because everything has very recently changed or is in the midst of changing. People used to live by certain standards – standards which essentially planned your life out for you. Today these standards have been trampled and we have to figure it out on our own. 99.9% of me loves this! I love that we get to be our unique selves and live the lives we want to live. This can only promote greater happiness in the westernized human population (which is definitely something I think is lacking, generally speaking). But that 0.01% of me wants someone to just tell me what to do!! Tell me what job to do, tell me where to live, tell me what to do with my life. This is the child coming out wishing my dear mother would just have all the answers for me. But it’s not truly what I want, it’s not a real wish – it’s my fear speaking.

Life is SCARY! Who knew?! Well – probably everyone past their twenties (give or take a few).

The unknown is a terrifying thought, no matter what it relates to. But it also allows us the one thing that keeps people going in the toughest of times – hope. The future will always be scary, and the past will always seem easy. But in the moment, your scary problem is always scary and it’s always your problem – even if you know that in a year (or 5) you will laugh at yourself for worrying about such an ‘insignifant’ thing. But the truth is that anything that carries your focus or worry for any amount of time is significant in some way. And that matters.

We always wish to be living like a kid again, but as a kid we always pretend to be our parents, we love when we get to do things by ourselves, and we are devastated when our favourite coloured crayon breaks. Perhaps we should just try to live in the moment, as cliché as that sounds, and take life a day or a week at a time. Set some realistic goals, accomplish them, and repeat. Appreciate the people around you and let yourself feel that fear that life so nonchalantly throws at us. If for anything, so that you can feel the amazing sense of hope that pulls you out of dark holes, lets you walk aross quicksand, and allows you to fly through the dark sky like a shooting star – a beacon of hope for anyone lucky enough to witness your fire. Because that’s what you are, what we all are. Small, similar, yet very different bright stars in this universe who each leave our own impression on the world as we know it.

Be a unicorn. Be you. Leave your own impression on this beautiful world.

catcowunicorn
I’ve been known to say “Be a unicorn!!”, and with this in mind and my love for yoga, a dear friend texted this picture to me this morning that I will most likely have framed soon. I’m not sure where it came from so if you do know, share the info and I will give credit where credit is due.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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